For 20 years, Baptist chaplain atWestmeadHospital, Brenda Robilliard has been supporting patients, families and staff members by sharing the Gospel with them.
As a former nurse atWestmeadHospital, returning to a familiar place gave Brenda a sense of “street cred”. Initially Brenda had no intentions of becoming a Baptist chaplain and the fact that she ended up in such a role can best be described as divine intervention. As if this was the job she was supposed to be doing all along.
Brenda’s return toWestmeadHospitalbegan after her husband’s heart and lungs transplant at the hospital which led her to want to give back in some way.
Over the course of a year, Brenda studied a course in grief and loss under the guidance of Reverend Bob Hooper, who was the Baptist chaplain at the time and also her supervisor. Brenda’s plan was to become a grief counsellor and have her own private practice.
However upon Reverend Bob Hooper’s retirement, Brenda was offered the job which she describes as “a mission field”. With this Brenda accepted the position, which would see her at the hospital she loved so much for three days a week.
Hospital chaplaincy is important for two reasons. Firstly, a hospital is a big place and can be overwhelming upon entering. Secondly, entering Westmead in particular is a spiritual experience. At the most basic level, Brenda’s job is providing a listening ear and a heart that cares for people. She addresses the grief of not just patients and their families, but staff too. Therefore it is a community grief that often needs to be addressed.
A hidden misconception of Brenda’s job is that it is inherently tied up with religion and the fact that Brenda herself isn’t religious per se dispels any mistruths. Although it may be a faith based job, the way in which Brenda relates to people isn’t always faith related.
In fact, the majority of people that she meets with are “un-Churched” but that doesn’t mean that they’re not people of faith. Often these people have been hurt by something that’s gone on in the Church or have been hurt by someone in Church. Broadly speaking, they are stories about reconnection and healing.
Brenda has Jesus as her role model in her job asWestmeadHospital’s Baptist chaplain and is more often than not guided by the needs of others around her. She aims to create peace in situations of absolute turmoil.
Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness it is fact a sign of strength.
Picture Credit: Open House